Burnley captain explains how Jordan Henderson rallied over Super League

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Burnley defender Ben Mee has explained how Jordan Henderson helped the Premier League captains “put rivalries aside” and come together to oppose the Super League.

“You know things are serious when Jordan Henderson sends a message to the Premier League captains’ WhatsApp group,” Mee explained in a column for the Guardian.

Liverpool’s No. 14 led the charge against proposals from the ‘big six’ to break away into a money-spinning alternative to the Champions League, with plans collapsing on Tuesday.

And Mee has explained his own stance on the Super League and the motivations of Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham in agreeing to join it.

“My first reaction was disbelief,” the Burnley captain said.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 29, 2020: Burnley's goal-scoring match winning captain Ben Mee celebrates at the final whistle the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Sheffield United FC at Turf Moor. Burnley won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Those who came up with the concept and those who signed up to it do not understand what football means to people.

“The clubs involved hid behind the pandemic and claimed it would bring stability to the sport, which I could not believe. Fans and players saw through it very quickly.”

James Milner was the first Liverpool player voice his criticism, while Henderson brought the captains together, just as he did in support of the NHS during the early throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We all shared our similar views on the matter there, and needless to say they were not positive,” Mee continued.

He later added: “The captains are willing to put rivalries aside and speak to one another, something that I do not think would have happened before last year.

“We like to think we have made a positive impact with this and our money-raising for the NHS, and hopefully we can continue to do so on a wide range of topics for the better of the game and society.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 27, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson applauds the supporters as he leads his side before during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Bromwich Albion FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And while Henderson has given his support to Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, in the aftermath of their withdrawal from the Super League, Mee gave a fitting appraisal.

“Footballers play for the fans, not people in boardrooms,” he insisted.

“No one scores a goal or makes a last-ditch tackle to earn the praise of the owners. They do it for the feeling they get when the crowd roars.

“The feeling of elation when we win is the same as it was as a kid, something those who know little about football cannot relate to.

“Football is about competition and enjoyment – that’s why we love the game. Without that it’s just business.”

It is a credit to Henderson that he is seen as the leader among the Premier League‘s 20 appointed captains, and as Mee points out, the hope is that this is just the start.

Man City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has already stepped out against UEFA’s reformed Champions League, and players now increasingly look to be using their power to change the game for the better.

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